Canadian Museum of History

Museum and attraction programming this summer and fall in Ottawa

You can once again visit many of Ottawa’s popular museums, historic sites, and other attractions! Some sites are offering regular programming (and even new experiences!), while others have had to make modifications to ensure safety and physical distancing. No matter what, you’ll have a blast! Here are some of the many ways you can experience attractions in Canada’s capital in summer and fall 2020.

Note: The information below was updated on September 2, 2020. Please contact each business individually before visiting as they may modify their admission guidelines, operating schedule, and access to certain areas at any time.

Canadian Museum of History

Current hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Thursday until 8:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservations; admission on site also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

As of September 2, 2020, the Canadian Museum of History is reopening some of its indoor spaces, including the Grand Hall, the Canadian History Hall  and the special exhibition UNCEDED ‒ Voices of the Land. Canada’s most visited museum is also offering indoor and outdoor self-guided family activities. General admission fees have been reduced, and children under 7 get free access. Note: Some spaces, including the Canadian Children’s Museum, remain inaccessible.

Canadian War Museum

Current hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Thursday until 8:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservations; admission on site also available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Canadian War Museum is reopening most of its indoor spaces on September 2, 2020. You can once again visit permanent spaces like the Canadian Experience Galleries, the Royal Canadian Legion Hall of Honour and the LeBreton Gallery, as well as special exhibitions. General admission is free for children under 7. Note: The Memorial Hall and some interactive elements remain inaccessible.

National Gallery of Canada

Current hours: Thursday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (until 8 p.m. on Thursdays)

Ticketing: In-person admission on a first-come, first-serve basis; enter through the Group Entrance and exit through the Main Entrance.

Art lovers can once again admire Canadian and international masterpieces at the National Gallery of Canada. Thanks to the National Gallery of Canada Foundation, the first 25,000 visitors starting on July 23, 2020 get free admission!

Visitors can access most of the museum’s spaces, including the acclaimed international Indigenous art exhibition Àbadakone | Continuous Fire | Feu continuel as well as Beautiful Monsters which have been extended until the fall. Don’t forget to wander through the grounds to see the impressive outdoor art installations and beautiful views.

Canada Agriculture and Food Museum 

Current hours: Thursday to Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation only

Ottawa’s working farm within the city highlights Canada’s agricultural heritage, including plants and animals. Most of the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum’s indoor and outdoor exhibits, barns and viewing areas are open, although some restrictions may apply—for instance, petting the animals is currently not allowed, and visitors are asked to follow a directional path through museum buildings. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic lunch, snacks and water to eat in the picturesque setting of the site if they wish.

Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Current hours: Thursday to Monday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation only

Most of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum is currently accessible, including the entire world-renowned collection of aircraft, as well as the Engine Alley and Canada in Space exhibitions. Certain spaces and interactive elements are temporarily inaccessible. Although the on-site café is closed, there are vending machines and picnic tables outside for those who wish to bring their own lunch.

Real flights, which usually depart from the museum, are currently departing from the Rockcliffe Flying Club nearby. Choose between a bi-plane or Cessna flight with Ottawa Biplane Adventures (helicopter rides are currently unavailable).

Canada Science and Technology Museum

Current hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation only

Visitors at the Canada Science and Technology Museum can enjoy the expansive indoor and outdoor spaces as well as the live demonstrations on the demo stage. Most exhibitions and collections are accessible, except high touch areas such as ZOOOM (Children’s Innovation Zone), Exploratek, and the Crazy Kitchen. Although the on-site café is closed, there are vending machines and picnic tables outside for those who wish to bring their own lunch.

Canadian Museum of Nature

Current hours: Wednesday to Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m.* to 4:00 p.m. (*first hour reserved for members on weekends)

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation only

The permanent galleries at the Canadian Museum of Nature are open to visitors, including the impressive displays of dinosaurs, mammals, birds, the Arctic and more. There are also new elements to enjoy, like the enormous representation of the Earth hanging in the Atrium, a downloadable photo scavenger hunt, and the special exhibition Planet Ice: Mysteries of the Ice Ages (October 2, 2020 to January 3, 2021). Some high-touch areas and amenities are closed, including the on-site café (there are vending machines).

Diefenbunker Museum

Current hours: Wednesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Ticketing: Online advanced ticket purchase recommended; in-person admission on a first-come, first-serve basis. Floor markers lead all visitors in one direction through the museum.

The Diefenbunker Museum, one of the region’s most unique attractions, is a Cold War-era underground bunker located in the west end of Ottawa. You can book a guided tour or explore the museum on your own (consider downloading the museum’s free, audio guide and bring earphones). On select evenings, you can also test your skills in the world’s largest escape room—Escape the Diefenbunker (advanced booking required).

Ottawa Art Gallery

Current hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; during the first hour, seniors and immunocompromised visitors get priority; the OAG is fully accessible.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation only (online or over the phone); use the Daly Avenue entrance to enter and exit.

The always free Ottawa Art Gallery is a large and modern space just outside of the ByWard Market area. Browse the exhibits to see works of art that represent the region’s artistic past and present, as well as Indigenous art and Group of Seven masterpieces.

Watson’s Mill

Current hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Ticketing: Admission on a first-come, first-serve basis; visitors are asked to wait at the entrance to be greeted by a staff member.

Located just south of downtown Ottawa in the historic village of Manotick, Watson’s Mill is an 1860s flour and grist mill-turned-museum that celebrates the area’s history. The mill continues to use original technology—including harnessing power from the Rideau River—to grind flour on site. The flour, homemade bread and other souvenirs can be purchased in the gift shop. A used bookstore is also on site.

Omega park

Current hours: Daily (hours vary)

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation only

Physical distancing is relatively easy at Omega Park, a giant wildlife and culture park in Montebello, Quebec, 45-minutes from downtown Ottawa. Experiences include a self-driven Canadian safari to see animals (and feed some of them), First Nations walking trails, a heritage farm, and overnight accommodations such as wolf cabins. On select evenings, the trails are illuminated for the magical Omega by Night event.

Saunders Farm

Current hours: Daytime programming on Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; campfires on select evenings.

Ticketing: Timed advanced reservation only

A-maze-ing fun is back at Saunders Farm, a countryside attraction located 30 minutes west of downtown Ottawa. The two-hour daytime visits include access to the famous hedge mazes and labyrinths, jumbo jumpers, and splashpad; the Snack Shack is also open. The 1.5-hour evening campfire experiences include your own physically-distanced site, fire-making supplies and food to match your chosen package (family or date).

Little Ray’s Nature Centre

Current hours: Contact the centre to make arrangements.

Ticketing: Advanced reservations required; private tours and special encounters only.

Little Ray’s Nature Centre in the east end of Ottawa is currently offering special ways to learn about and meet live exotic animals and reptiles. Book a private tour of the centre for your household, or reserve an encounter with an adorable live sloth! Virtual options, live Zoo-Zoom calls, are also available.

City museums and historic sites

Discover the region’s culture and heritage at the various City of Ottawa museum and historic sites. They include: Cumberland Heritage Village MuseumFairfields Heritage HousePinhey’s Point Historic SiteBillings Estate National Historic SiteNepean Museum and more. Reservations recommended at most sites; visit individual webpages for access and hours.

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